For archival nerds like myself, it’s important to keep up with backups. Whether it’s my music collection on Google Music, digital video projects on an external hard drive or my iPhone syncing to iCloud, I’m constantly looking for new & efficient ways to back up my files.
This, by no means, excludes my Twitter rants and raves. I’m currently at 56,773 tweets. The discussion on how I’ve tweeted that many times since 1/28/09 will be saved for another day. I was partially interested in finding a way to read my older tweets without needing to scroll through endless infinite scrollers but, also, a solution in which to make a copy of my tweets. Luckily, Twitter makes this process very easy.
First up, log in to your Twitter account and then click on the gear icon on the top right of the page. This should expose a menu where you can then click on Settings.
If you scroll down on your settings page, towards the bottom, there should be a section called “Your Twitter archive”. There, you can click on “Request your archive” and Twitter will prepare your archive. I’ve heard some cases where this process can take a while, but for me, the archive confirmation email from Twitter arrived within 5 minutes of initiating the backup.
When your archive is ready, you’ll get an email from Twitter. They supply you with a link to access your backup. Once you click it, you’ll get taken to Twitter’s website where you can click to download your archive.
The file you download is a zip archive called ‘tweets.zip’. Simply double click the zip file once it’s completed downloading (my tweets.zip file was roughly 9.4 MB, the more tweets, the bigger the file size).
The file will extract a folder called ‘tweets’ which will contain some files & sub-folders. The readme.txt file instructs that the quickest way to review your tweet backup is to double click the index.html file. It launches in your browser and you can begin navigating through your twitter archive by year / month.
The data folder in the archive contains CSV and JSON backups of your tweets, also organized by year / month. If you’re into data manipulation, those files will come in handy, but the index.html file is the quickest way to dive into your archive. Simply scroll through the months listed underneath the years and click a month to start browsing your old tweets. This timeline view also works as an interesting infographic to your tweeting habits. Check out mine on the right; I met my girlfriend Vanessa in November 2011, my December 2011 tweets hit an all time low for 2011. Jumping back to 2009, I signed up in January, and I didn’t really start tweeting until I got my first iPhone in August 2009, the trend picks up from there.
To wrap up, overall this is a cool way to go back and look at your tweets, in addition to making a back up of your data. I’m wondering if Twitter has any plans to release this feature on their website, as part of our Twitter browsing experience, similar to Facebook’s timeline. I’m also wondering why they haven’t already implemented this feature. Twitter backup was made available back in December 2012 by Twitter. Here’s their official announcement on the twitter backup feature.
Finally, for any of you wondering what my first tweet was, here you go:
A little song, a little dance, batman’s head on a lance…
— Charley Campbell (@foochuck) January 28, 2009
PS – Don’t forget to backup your Twitter backup! I dropped my “tweets.zip” into a folder in my google drive account.